BROWNSBORO – There was a big defensive battle in Brownsboro on Friday night, and it took a third quarter rally by Rusk to make a difference in a 28-14 win in District 7-4A Division II play on Friday.

The Eagles (2-6, 2-0) clinched a playoff spot and remained atop the league as they came out for a huge second half of big plays.

After a standoff of defensive plays led to a scoreless first quarter, the Bears went to work on the first play of the second quarter.

Already on a drive at the Eagles’ 16-yard line, Brownsboro quarterback Gage Wehrmann threw his first pass of the night, and made it count, finding a wide open Gavyn Thomas at the 16-yard line, for a catch-and-run tally. Jorge Vincente was good with the PAT kick, and the 7-0 lead with 11:52 before halftime.

The Eagles answered right back, however, with their big play of the half.

Rusk’s Conner Ellis took the ensuing kickoff, and returned he kick 52 yards to the Brownsboro 16-yard line.

Four plays later, Jaylon Hall bulled in for a 1-yard touchdown, and the Jermaine Lewis PAT tied the game, at 7-7, with only 1:40 off the clock on the drive.

Two Bears drives were turned back on lost fumbles, as Colt Kennedy, and Semaji Johnson picked up errant balls to thwart the Bears’ efforts.

Brownsboro rode the legs of five ball carriers, and ground out the final score of the half.

Taking over at the Eagles’ 44-yard line, it took six plays before Wehrmann blasted in for the final two yards. Another Vincente PAT kick gave Brownsboro a 14-7 lead it carried into halftime.

After the intermission, the respective defensive units held steadfast for two possessions for each team, before the Eagles got another big special teams play.

Punt returner Jermey Johnson returned a Brownsboro punt 24 yards to set the offense up at the Brownsboro 34-yard line.

Four plays later, Hall found a huge gap up the middle, and ran the final 14 yards to a 14-14 tie.

The Eagles made a great defensive stand on a fourth-and-3 to force the ball back to Rusk on downs, and the Eagles struck quick.

After two quick rushing first downs, Hall sent Johnson on a deep route, and the wideout ran under a beautiful pass at the 5-yard line, and raced in for a 41-yard scoring toss, and the 21-14 Rusk lead.

More defense highlighted the game throughout the final half, as both teams battled and Rusk won the total yardage war with only a 283-270 edge on the night.

The fleet-footed Eagle quarterback, Hall, finished up the scoring, and showed some wheels, eclipsing the 100-yard mark by sprinting to a 33-yard TD run with 8:58 left in the game.

The Bears did stop a late Rusk drive with a Brandon Radke fumble recovery for the Bears at their own 41-yard line. The final Bears drive, however, ended in a Semaj Johnson interception with no time left to seal the Eagle victory.

Hall finished with 159 yards rushing in 22 tries and three scores for Rusk, while throwing for another 53 yards. Jermey Johnson made two grabs for 47-yards and a TD.

The Bears got 129 yards from Wehrmann on 13 carries. The Bears could manage only 12 yards through the air, going 2-for-9, with the one late interception. Bears running back Cole Williams added 77 yards on 12 carries.

District play resumes next Friday night, as the Eagles will play host to Canton (2-6, 0-2). Brownsboro (2-7m 1-2) will hit the road to face Bullard (2-6, 1-1).